10 MONTROSE VOICE/ JANUARY 16. 1987
Mayor Will Not Make Deal with
By Sheri Cohen Darbonne
Mayor Kathy Whitmire has voiced her
opposition to an agreement between the
host committee for the Democratic
National Convention and the "Committee for Democratic Awareness," and a
mayoral aide said the flap could hurt
Houston's bid to be the convention site.
Meanwhile, representatives ofthe ad
hoc committee, which has attempted to
convince the host committee to address
the issue of anti-gay bias by the Houston Chamber of Commerce, were to hold
a closed-door meeting Thursday night,
Jan. 15, to discuss their next move. The
seven members currently serving on the
committee are Gene Harrington, Ray
Hill, I_ou Vanech. Jack Valinski, Sam
Cannon, Joe Wilson and Sue Lovell.
Insisting that adoption of any ofthe
group's stated goals implied a contractual agreement with a special interest
group in return for support of the bid,
Whitmire announced Wednesday night
that she opposed allowing any group to
use the convention effort as a means of
gaining a concession.
Mayoral aide Paul Mabry said Thursday that the mayor's objections had
nothing to do with prejudice against
gays or any other minority.
"She objected in general with the host
committee's making an agreement with
any group on issues not directly related
to the convention," he said.
If gays are allowed to demand specific
goals in return for supporting the convention, other groups could do the same,
resulting in "total chaos," Mahry
But Harrington, one ofthe awareness
committee organizers, insisted the host
committee has already engaged in
"negotiations" with a special interest
"If i Mayor Whitmire) can call what
we're doing blackmail, what about
when the AFL-CIO threatened to throw
up a picket line at the convention center? Isn't that blackmail?" Harrington
Harrington said he had been told by
Clintine Cashion, the mayor's representative on the host committee, that negotiations were in progress with union
Mabry, however, said to his knowledge no concessions were being made to
"We have asked for and received letters of support from the unions without
promising anything in return," Mabry
"Everyone should understand the
worth of this convention to the city," he
said. "If gays want a platform to air
their grievances, what better opportunity could they have than the convention?"
The mayor's position is that the sole
function of the host committee should
be to win the convention bid, Mabry
said. He suggested that Atlanta and
New Orleans, Houston's two major competitors for the host site, could turn the
negative publicity aroused by the dispute to their advantage.
Harrington said members of the
awareness committee are "confused" as
to what the mayor's objections are to its
goals, which assistant host committee
chair Russel Rau earlier agreed to help
According to the agreement, the host
committee would adopt a statement of
Democratic Party philosophy assuring
hospitable treatment of all attending
the convention, including lesbians and
gay men; allow gays meaningful participation on the host committee; and
assist in setting up a lineof communication between gays and the business
On Sunday, Jan. 11, Cashion met
with representatives of several gay
organizations to explain her position on
the agreement. At the time, she said the
goals were reasonable and that two of
them were already an inherent part of
Democratic Party philosophy towards
Cashion said a lineof communication
between gays and the business establishment should be pursued independently by gay leaders since it did not
relate to the convention.
Harrington said he indicated in a letter to Rau that a separate dialogue on
that particular issue was acceptable to
the awareness committee.
Annise Parker, president of the Houston Gay Political Caucus, said the
mayor overreacted to an issue that had
already played itself down and that she
felt the resulting publicity could hurt
the gay community.
A story that appeared in the Houston
Post Thursday "makes it appear that
the entire gay community is involved,
and that is not the case," Parker said.
The Committee for Democratic
Awareness is not directly aligned with
any other gay organization in Houston,
although members have approached
organizations for support, Parker
added. HGPC declined to adopt the
goals of the group at its meeting Jan. 7
because members felt the convention
issue should not be used as a vehicle to
address the bias problem, she said.
"Our basic reasoning was that these
issues should be addressed directly ...
the convention should not be held hostage," Parker said.
Publicity regarding the convention
controversy "gives more ammunition to
the homophobes," Parker commented.
However, she pointed out, the Awareness Committee had already dropped its
more radical goals and had been working on genera! principles to achieve
improved relations between gays and
the business community.
"We didn't make an issue of this, the
mayor did," Parker said.
The Committee for Democratic
Awareness first organized in November
1986, spearheaded by Harrington and
attorney Tom Coleman, who has since
moved to California. In its early days
the group stated a general goal of educating the Democratic Site Selection
October 7, 1961-January 9, 1987
Jeffery left this life Friday, Jan. 9. 1987.
Jeffery touched the hearts of many while
bartending at The Exile and Midnite Sun
Survivors include mother, Priscillia; sisters, Candy and Tami; two nephews; and
numerous friends too many to mention.
Services were held Wednesday, Jan. 14.
at Heights Funeral Home with special
thanks to the community, The Zoo. and
Heights for fulfilling Jeff's last wishes.
Always loved, never to be forgotten. Go
into the light baby, go to the light.
Mom, Tami, Candy, Gary and B.J.
Committee of a history of anti-gay discrimination in Houston.
It also listed specific objectives,
including requiring the Houston
Chamber of Commerce to go on record
with a non-discriminatory policy and to
commit to raising $500,000 for AIDS
Foundation Houston, Inc.
In December, after negotiations with
Rau, the committee adopted a more
moderate stance, eschewing political
and monetary demands in favor ofthe
three general "goals" of dialogue, cooperation and hospitality.
Neither Cashion nor Rau could be
reached for comment Thursday.
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